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320kmh Coast bullet train a 'pie in the sky' with potential

DOUBTFUL: Rail campaigner Jeff Addison is doubtful a fast rail will happen. He now takes the bus, after commuting via rail for years.
DOUBTFUL: Rail campaigner Jeff Addison is doubtful a fast rail will happen. He now takes the bus, after commuting via rail for years. Warren Lynam

LONG-time Sunshine Coast rail advocate Jeff Addison believes talk of a bullet train linking the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay is just fanciful dreaming.

He thought the idea of a fast train connecting the regions was "totally unrealistic", given the current state of the existing North Coast train line and attempts to have it duplicated.

"We're on the third business case with the current rail duplication," Mr Addison said in response to State Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls writing to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seeking a slice of $20 million in funding to develop a bullet train business case.

"It's hard to give credence to it."

Mr Nicholls and his deputy, Deb Frecklington, wrote to Mr Turnbull seeking a share of the 2017-18 Budget's Faster Rail Initiative, which will provide $20 million for three business cases for faster rail connections between major cities and regional centres.

 

LNP State Leader Tim Nicholls.
LNP State Leader Tim Nicholls. Renee Albrecht

Mr Addison, a spokesman for RAIL Back On Track, has been an avid campaigner for duplication of the North Coast line along 39km from Beerburrum-Nambour, to boost freight capacity on the North Coast Line and increase passenger services for Coast commuters to and from Brisbane.

Building Queensland has completed a detailed business case on the duplication and has proposed to duplicate a 20km stretch of the line, from Beerburrum-Landsborough.

Mr Addison was disappointed the business case had failed to address the main bottleneck on the line, along the most windy stretch between Landsborough and Nambour, but was expecting some sort of commitment to the about-$780 million project in the next State Budget.

He didn't foresee fast trains servicing the Coast any time within the next 50 years.

Would you use a bullet train from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast?

This poll ended on 18 May 2017.

Yes, as long as it stopped in Brisbane - 51%

No, I prefer to drive - 2%

It'll never happen so I'm not thinking about it - 45%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Sunshine Coast Business Council chairwoman Sandy Zubrinich said a fast train could benefit the region in future, but noted the need for rail line duplication from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast.

"We ought to take anything we can for good projects, but we need more information," Ms Zubrinich said.

Architect and urban futurist Phillip Daffara, director of design consultancy Future Sense, supported development of a fast rail business case, believing the benefits it would bring made it a "no-brainer".

But he said a number of factors, including population density, would have to be considered.

 

A bullet train running on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line bound for Tokyo passes through Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture, at 9:24 a.m. on March 14, 2015. With the opening of a 228-kilometer section between Nagano and Kanazawa on Saturday, Tokyo and the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture are now directly connected by the Hokuriku Shinkansen. But it took 43 years for the line to reach Kanazawa after the original plan was decided. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )
A bullet train running on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line bound for Tokyo passes through Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture, at 9:24 a.m. on March 14, 2015. With the opening of a 228-kilometer section between Nagano and Kanazawa on Saturday, Tokyo and the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture are now directly connected by the Hokuriku Shinkansen. But it took 43 years for the line to reach Kanazawa after the original plan was decided. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images ) Naoki Maeda

He noted a similar sized stretch in Japan, from Osaka-Nagoya, had bullet trains running every 15 minutes, but serviced a population of about 60 million people.

He said the Gold Coast-Wide Bay regions were set to grow to only 2.7 million people by 2021.

"To have big infrastructure you do need to have an appropriate population to support it," he said.

Mr Daffara estimated trains would have to be able to travel 240kmh-320kmh from the Gold Coast through to Wide Bay to make it attractive, and added Brisbane's Cross-River Rail was an element that had to be in place before the fast rail rolled out.

Topics:  community federal government funding infrastructure planning and development rail state government sunshine coast sunshine coast council traffic trains transport



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